War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Interview with Gennady Gerasimov, 1987
Sequence and it gets harder and sort of people. But with the future of the past and you want to stay but today to make my ourselves short I hope you're going longer. No no I do not see people so I ask you not to bring it forward not to bring things to the present but essentially stay within the period. OK that's a claim. Tell me there is there is an impression among among some that that in the transition between generation have and there was a rethinking of the Soviet Union both nuclear policy and foreign policy. Can you explain what these three think and type of.
In a nutshell we understood more clearly than ever. Then we live in an interdependent world that we are in the same boat and we must find the solution to our own security. Together with our opponents we thought their enemies but actually their partners in survival. So this is the idea of common security which was actually in the air. This was the title of a report published by part of the commission. This is this kind of spirit. How did you personally I think you or the time receive or understand their statements of faith President Reagan when he came to power. On the nature of the Soviet state people.
When man he came to power we had other leadership. And of course these kind of statements for instance even imply on that we belong to the dustbin of history they didn't help. They fueled our negative attitude. It was the question of negative feedback loop. They say something very negative. We act accordingly and now we want to have positive feedback loop by doing something good or they're doing something good. That's before you move there can you can you tell me personally you know not as not as official. But how did you understand what was he trying to do and what did it do to you in terms of being the Soviet person. The statement by Regan's they enjoyed us. Psychological Yeah I mean also and.
And they just we had this reaction maybe overreaction because he was so hostile to us when it was thought that maybe we must build up our military power a little bit more. That was an impetus for us to build more weapons which now we see maybe was there also. Well I wondered whether you know whether the foreign minister for example was was warned by by the Soviet military that the deployment of this 20s might evoke such a. Substantial political response both in the States and in Europe. I wasn't not here and that time but I think that this was not
thought through in the sense of there was a possible reaction of modernization. Actually we had our missiles there. It's a complicated subject they're going to dance into what we had no missiles there in Europe and there was no big fuss. They've accepted. But now we when we begin to modernize it. That was the first. But as to the American arsenal oceans this person is a bit on drawing boards in the States. Long before we began to change our old missiles the new ones. So from both sides there was technical momentum technical. So they had new weapons and they tried to find function for this new weapons. So military thought technical competition meant first political thought was a little bit behind
it. How do you explain I suspect that you answered this question many times but I need it again. How do you explain sort of the Soviet total rejection of that of the zero option when Reagan proposed he won and the route is actually the kind of change of attitude toward the zero option between. Between the time it was outlined by President Reagan in 81 and in 81 and I when he was talking tough we didn't want and also thought that it will contribute to military balance in Europe our new missiles in time we became wiser and also the Americans
became wise and we thought that maybe it's a good place to start. You know credit someone named Jan. 15 one thousand eight to six hours later got a bunch of proposed the plan of North Korean disarmament by the year 2000 which many thought is just a pipe dream possible to achieve and so on. But then at Reykjavik we discussed it and in Washington we had this break sort of in a sense the deep got disagreement to begin nuclear disarmament in itself from the military point of view it's not a big deal because it affects only 3 to 4 percent of an Oakland house in the house. But as a beginning it's very important to wait. We crossed a Nokia will become so we can go forward. Before we get there you can only cover it for you
know I was an engineer took nothing but a genuine I was a correspondent. Why. Well we had in plan of don't cling to Sam and and we almost succeeded. But unfortunately when we couldn't solve our differences about weapons in space Ed Jr. both leaders agreed to stop the arms race on earth and to prevent prevent the arms race in space. But when in the Reykjavik general secretary garbage of try to persuade President Reagan
to be as good as he is a burden to prevent that was raised in space he said no because he likes so much was the star wars program. That was the reason and went down and down but still. The original reaction was that Reykjavik was a failure. But pretty soon both sides agreed that it was a success because this was where it all started. Look this. Rocky start. We propose to the president. It was actually our idea to go to Rick Perry and we came there with the proposals. Americans didn't send any proposals. So we discussed o problems
and we suggested that we will work for nuclear disarmament. And Reagan agreed this was a real achievement because for instance if you talk to your prime minister of Britain teacher she's against nuclear disarmament because she sings that nuclear weapons as a deterrent and they ensure peace. But we think that they're too dangerous for that. So there are no failsafe systems and it's better to get rid of them. And President Reagan happens to think likewise. So it was a big meeting of the mines in this sense. This conversation because we exchanged.
What do they say. Then they just parted disappointed. Both sides were disappointed but then pretty soon as I've said then just to the something was a new energy and something was then distending that we must work together for nuclear disarmament. This was understanding and then we made concessions. We came from Reykjavik with our package. But then we decided that maybe we'll go step by step and step number one was this intermediate missiles. So we said no no not today. After after a jury. At Reykjavik and immediately after making big we had the position
that we must move on several fronts simultaneously strategic forces ABM Treaty and intermediate missiles. But then we saw that it's next to impossible because America's not ready so we decided to unpack our package and we have a result number one. And now we're expecting result number two cutting by half started you can fence of forces and staying with ABM Treaty this year. It's not our problem. You know this is a joint in the joint statement which was adopted at Washington. Both sides are saying that the ABM treaty must be observed as signed.
So the question of interpretation never arises from 1970 to opt your mind you need 5 maybe or 6. Why because it was their normal interpretation. But the Star Wars program if continued inevitability is going to clash with the ABM Treaty and actually the Reagan administration never liked this treaty. I remember a book by Strobe Talbott Time correspondent deadly gambits about the Reagan administration's policy Numsa control field. And in this book he says that it was a book published five years ago something he says that the first thing that Reagan this administration wanted to do is to get rid of ABM Treaty mad last year with a message and then I was saying officially that they are going to stay with the ABM Treaty
as do the interp for a certain period of time. Yes to interpretation this interpretation of the so-called broad interpretation was simply invented because they hired a lawyer inexperienced in the field to find loopholes and he tried to find loopholes. And now these broad interpretation a Bude interpretation which even the American Congress is not going to buy. Or that I don't remember made. You must ask me to go into my own way and here. No need for that. If he did was it kind of an attempt to reach a compromise which was then dissolve would buy american go and.
Well we don't know who first saw it. I don't I don't have them so. People are only very. Few. We have discussions of course we have discussions of what to do and it's a democratic process of formulating foreign policy I remember at Reykjavik and that sheep and goats. What's good about that it was
a preliminary meeting before the beginning of the summit. Well I participated and I also was given the floor and I expressed my views on this and that and there got a bunch of listened and other people contributed to this discussion. So it was a discussion on them coming to certain conclusions and it was not unanimous. There were differences of opinion in the newspapers and so on in nature. Once you know you see this is the way how we are reaching our decisions in the say make sure you say it. Was. Fine. Make your own ration.
When we saw when we saw that wow moving away we discussed it. To have this suppression it was Minister of Foreign Affairs Central Committee the minister of defense. Those three borders mean. This when they do work together and gain this in those discussions. But then they came to the common position within their reach. After discussing discussions they come to the consensus to see this the change of position. We head up a kitchen that then we unpacked it so its change of position. It is not done by just like this its just stuff to do. So after discussion after hearing all the arguments fall and against it.
The problem the problem with American delegation is that it speaks with many voices that are differences of opinion which you can see. So this is the different difficulty because you don't know whom to talk to. Well you may have discussions but if you are going to negotiation table you myself one position. Otherwise your opening does no home listen to you. I'm certain trumpet is a sheen Bible. If if the trumpets songs on sword need secure the uncertain trumpet how can you prepare for the battle as the Bible says is right. He was so good. You're right. You should be promoted. This is one of the many of his own slowness. I don't remember no.
We went to one fellow and he was saying one thing we went to another fellow and he was saying different things especially on this Star Wars. The Russians. Through the mess we ease. He's a silly idea. If you thing that you're going to have insurance against nuclear attack our scientists are telling us that it is technically impossible and defend vend little point is going to try to have the shield. And there
are countermeasures which will be hundreds of times cheaper interation as in the other things. So it's silly it's dangerous because in the process of preparing to The Star was you can get new with offensive weapons and you can put them in space and there will be no flight time nothing just a push in the bottom of this weapons will be in action. And that's the danger not the shield which is technically impossible but offensive side effects site products so to see which can be very dangerous tempting. That's a little bit more.
What if you just read. Me for next spring and you're asking me I want to show would you not come next year on this program. No. So then to look next spring stilt of the sun. Look look look look. The next thing women thing. And we agreed with the United States that the next agreement is going to be in the agreement to cut our nuclear forces by half which does not mean cutting them to size. They're still too big our scientist published a report about strategic stability when we have a radical reductions of strategic arms. And in this report they're saying that only 5 percent of our present nuclear arsenals are enough to have Nokia don't. So we can
easily cut by 95 percent and still have the statistics the military structure. What's the question. They say it's another Dunning and let us know I'm going to Deccan galleys said nuclear warheads and delivery systems and they have some limits. It's a technical 6000 rockets on 1000 800 delivery systems four thousand nine hundred one heads on intercontinental ballistic missiles
and submarine launched ballistic missiles. Also limits within six to six weeks thousands we don't know about them of this 6000 as we must agree on limits on sea based cruise missiles. So we go on. Finally he said oh you know which time it is on Washington so it's a very productive constructive very good site with real dialogue. I wish we could have more summers like this. OK so so so please with the Washington summit. What in your sense was the atmosphere and that humans and their atmosphere was extremely good
call positive attitudes. Frank discussions not hiding disagreements and differences but trying to find common ground. Let's cover we should be. So in this sense it was exemplary. What was achieved it was signed to the guidelines laid for the next three for the diplomats to work on. Instructions were given to them. The figures which I mentioned were going to deploy on cruise missiles by sea based cruise missiles discussed and the fate decided I think you know how the how did the Soviet delegation felt about they should believe the over the known mention the beauty of Star Wars of the ICC and discussed what we did discuss was ABM
Treaty and we decided to stick to this ABM treaty is signed in 1970 during the period of it here and so was not established. We like to be here to this period to be at least 10 years. Actually we like it to be from here to eternity. But Americans feel that their star ball program is going to collapse. I mean these three Jews so they want to stay with this data on your for a certain period of time so this is going to be discussed. Again looking there you do you find that they like the last mean mugging. What do we know their tactics. For instance I decided on the departure and the
ceremony was put at 2pm and that one won it 155 were still marking it at 2 was still bugging me. So the departure side Emery was delayed for 35 min. Certain key clauses in the statement you you don't like the size of a have but other talk also. But mainly I guess the medicals they start. Well that's good. Even better than. It is if there's an old star and a long history
conflict in my view is that the Americans still do not accept us. They steal that. They still thing that an illegitimate child 1:07 to a New York Public Library and look into a New York Times for November 1917. And this influential newspaper wrote about maximalist So this one shrieks wrote about maximalist that this is just a bunch of buglers who want to rob the banks in Pittsburgh right to divide money between themselves. This was from the very beginning very hostile attitude. And then in the 20s the Americans had read scat. And the only time we were really together was during the war
and the Americans very late in Munich and izing us only in 1933 when the US President was a camp about show this is the editor then we see it as it is fear of losing that kept interest freedoms though. We do not want them to deprive them of their kept honest freedoms if they like them. Let them enjoy them. But our policy is lit and live lit live and let live or we're going to call that peaceful co-existence. But now in this Nuclear Age is just it is just the imperative of time to find common ground and to find how we can escape nuclear danger which is equal for both of us.
So it's an ideological it's ideological conflict which we suggest we must resolve by arguing not by shooting. Yes it is different systems. But again China has. Different system from the American from. The United States and for many years seen in the 50s beginning in the 50s and the 60s for many years the United States was very close to China and they also thought that up to China as Reagan at that time was a proponent of I was an. Advocate of two China policy one China my mainland China the other China Taiwan and all this is now now China and the United States have normal relations
song but ideology is still different. So why not have the same attitude to this and I hope I hope we don't assume any of that assuming your reasons for instance George Kennan once said. Suppose tomorrow the Soviet Union is going to the bottom of the sea with all its missiles and tanks and ideas. What's going to happen to the United States in his view of the United States is going to be extremely unhappy. What to do with those. All those arguments what the military the industrial complex is going to do. So his idea is you must give an enemy to re-arm to make your economy going. This meant industrial complex is there. So it's one of the answers maybe it's partial that's one of the houses the other the other say psychological in a sense that they've got
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- Interview with Gennady Gerasimov, 1987
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- Gennady Gerasimov was the Soviet Foreign Ministry Spokesman under Mikhail Gorbachev. In the interview he briefly describes the changes in Soviet policy that took place between Brezhnev and Gorbachev. He recalls the psychological effects of Reagan's early disparaging remarks about the Soviet Union. In his opinion, the Soviet deployment of SS-20 missiles was not adequately thought through, and he traces Soviet thinking (and rethinking) of the zero option. He recalls particular aspects of the Reykjavik summit and his understanding of the difficulties U.S. officials have had with the ABM treaty. He calls SDI "a silly idea" and "dangerous." The Washington summit, in his view, was an extremely positive experience characterized by cooperation and candid discussion. Asked about the nature of the U.S.-Soviet conflict, he says it is basically ideological, then provides reflections on the different attitudes that obtain on each side.
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- Soviet Union. Treaties, etc. United States, 1972 May 26 (ABM); Soviet Union; Nuclear Disarmament; China; Great Britain; Reagan, Ronald; nuclear weapons; Nuclear arms control; United States; Summit meetings--Iceland--Reykjavik; Communism; Capitalism; Strategic Defense Initiative; Roosevelt, Franklin D. (Franklin Delano), 1882-1945; Thatcher, Margaret; Gorbachev, Mikhail; Brezhnev, Leonid Il'ich, 1906-1982
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Publisher: WGBH Educational Foundation
Writer: Gerasimov, Gennady
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- Chicago: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Interview with Gennady Gerasimov, 1987,” 1987-12-17, WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed September 18, 2020, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-15-fj29882v4n.
- MLA: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Interview with Gennady Gerasimov, 1987.” 1987-12-17. WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. September 18, 2020. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-15-fj29882v4n>.
- APA: War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Interview with Gennady Gerasimov, 1987. Boston, MA: WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-15-fj29882v4n